Castle Craig in Scotland is considered the world’s first clinic to treat crypto addicts. The demand for therapy places there is said to have increased tenfold recently.
Whether crypto investments or regular trading in Bitcoin, Ethereum and other crypto currencies can be as addictive as gambling or day trading is not entirely undisputed among experts. Therapist Anthony Marini of the Castle Craig addiction clinic in Scotland, considered the first in the world to treat crypto addicts, has a clear opinion. Marini claims to have been the first to draw a similarity between crypto trading and gambling.
The pattern behind it: First, the journey of the later crypto addicts leads them from individual trades with frequent profits to the desire to experience the feeling of happiness gained thanks to the dopamine release more often. Then there are often longer periods of time with high losses. The associated loss of face can then lead to isolation and withdrawal. In the end, there are often illegal acts or even suicide attempts, like Marini towards Decrypt explained.
The therapist has been treating them since 2017 at Castle Craig crypto addicts. Marini sees the biggest problem in multiple dependency. Crypto addiction is often accompanied by drug or alcohol abuse. Often it is only during the treatment that it becomes clear that the people who have gone to rehab because of drug or alcohol addiction are also dependent on cryptocurrencies. Most crypto addicts, according to Marini, are constantly on their smartphones or computers, checking the prices. If their smartphone was stolen from them, they reacted with fear, sweats or panic attacks.
Accordingly, the treatment of crypto addiction also includes not using a smartphone. Castle Craig patients are only allowed to use their phone for two hours once a week. According to Marini, the clinic also treats people who have lost their access to their Bitcoin assets – for example, while on drugs. The knowledge of the possible wealth and the fact that they would not be able to get there due to the lack of an access key leads some to despair and attempts to commit suicide. They felt stupid and incompetent, according to Marini.
When the Bitcoin price recently rose sharply – and lured new investors into the crypto world – and then collapsed, which deprived some of their investments, the demand for therapy places in the crypto clinic increased. According to Marini, ten times as many people are currently trying to get admission as in the previous year. The therapist recommends anyone who thinks they are addicted to cryptos to look for clinics that treat gambling addicts.
Not all specialist colleagues judge the subject like Marini. The addiction therapist Dylan Kerr, who lives in Thailand, thinks that the dependence on cryptocurrencies on the one hand may be related to gambling addiction. On the other hand, there are also many differences. The problem, according to Kerr, is that many therapists are not very familiar with cryptoculture.
For Kerr, the differences to gambling addiction lie in the continuous availability of crypto trading and the high volatility. Those affected are also under great pressure from social media. One victim told Decrypt that social media fueled his bad decisions. He had the feeling that he would miss the chance of his life if he didn’t quickly pump a lot of money into the crypto market.